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Kid Movie Making Ideas: 3 Question Interview with Daddy STOP MOTION Animator, Dave DiBartolo

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When it comes to Kid Moviemaking Ideas, Lego Stop Motion is super, super high on the list. Not only does it allow our little ones to generate fun stories that can be easily captured, but it also extends the creative thinking to constructing worlds, and engaging problem-solving skills in not only the child, but parent as well.

After fellow parent, David DiBartolo completed his Fine Arts degree he landed in the world of video, and now applies these skills at home with his son Drew. Below he shares some tips and tricks for parents looking to get into Lego moviemaking. Also, don’t forget to comment for free access to the film Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

See Also: 3 Question Interview with Professional Stop Motion Animator Alex Kobbs

How did you get into making Lego videos with your little one?

When my son Drew was four he got his first Lego set, a Star Wars spaceship of some kind. I noticed he had some really imaginative play with just the ship and the three characters that came along. I thought it would be a great idea to film him and capture some of the great stories he was telling. As his/our passion for Lego grew we began watching some really great stop-motion Lego movies on YouTube, and it was Drew who suggested we try to make our own.

Like any creative endeavor, it began very basic. I wanted to find a way to make it easy for a four/five year old to make his own movies as well as keep his attention so he doesn’t get board of the monotony of the stop-motion process.

We had no lights or tripod. I chose the brightest room in our house and suggested we shoot on my iPhone as appose to the DSLR cameras that many of the YouTube videos are shot with. As for a stop-motion app, we landed on the “LEGO Movie” app. It has some canned effects, stock music, and a pretty simple UI for a four/five year old to grasp.

Kid Moviemaking Ideas: Dave and Drew setting up a shot in one of their movies.
Kid Moviemaking Ideas: Dave and Drew setting up a shot in one of their movies.

Can you tell us a little about the Lego Stop Motion App? How easy is it to use? Do you need to know about Stop Motion and Movie Making?

The “LEGO Movie” app is pretty simple. It gives you the option to chose your focal point, turn on the flash on your phone, and use it as a light. An “onion layer” option so you can see the previous shot for a fluid sequence. As well as some pre-canned effects and music to help make the post-production of the video a little easier.

What advice can you offer parents looking to make Lego videos with their kids?

Start simple and plan out the story before going into the shoot. Drew and I have a “pre-production” meeting where I try to limit his grand ideas into a simple story. He has a great imagination and sometimes imagines stories that would rival most summer blockbuster films.

The best thing I learned is to give him rules to work within, otherwise he’d either get frustrated, or bored, and not want to finish – or we’d end up working all night!

I have him choose a hero, a villain and some supporting cast. I also have him choose one location and work the story around that location. I ask him what problem his hero has to solve. If the solution begins to get a bit too violent I ask him what his hero could do to avoid the violence. Asking questions about his story really helps hone in on the core of the story he is trying to tell. I let him create the story I just guide him in a positive direction.

Sometimes he gets really excited about his idea and I suggest we draw storyboards so when we go into filming I can refer to this so he stays on task.

As for useful equipment, using a tripod and/or a studio light help. The main reason is to get a level steady shot and try to even out the light, so the shadows don’t get too heavy.

Check out one of Drew and David’s films below.


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Kid Movie Making Ideas: 6 Easy Steps to Making Movie Magic

Moviemaking is great in the development of storytelling skills. Add magic to the mix and you’ve got an additional dimension for creativity to flourish. There are lots of kid movie making ideas out there, but the 6 simple movie making tips below are very easy to perfect and offer a nice final product once finished. The activity is also nice introduction to parents with little to no experience of filmmaking.

OUR RESOURCES: iPhone, iMovie App

Step One:

Set up the magic trick. Practice how it will work. You will need a pause or as little movement as possible where you plan to make the cuts in the video. In between these two sections is what I refer to as ‘behind the scenes’ – the part where you physically remove an item from the scene.

See Also: Moviemaking with Children: Making Things Disappear

Step Two:

Record video. The simple way to do this is record the entire thing without stopping. It’s important to keep the video still, especially during the places where the ‘behind the scenes’ action begins and ends. This will be helpful in editing.

Step Three:

Import entire video into a moviemaking app on an iOS or Android device. It might be wise to remove the sound if this is an option in your app, especially if you’ve been delivering instructions.

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Step Four:

Add a ‘split’ (cut), to the video at the end of the first section where the trick is set up. Then add another split (cut) to the end section where the trick is revealed. The ‘behind the scenes’ clip should be in the middle.

Step Five:

This is the part where you delete the ‘behind the scenes’ clip.

Step Six:

Review to make sure the first clip transitions into the remaining clip without it looking obvious – this is why it’s so important to keep the camera steady during filming. Do NOT add a transition or effect between the two clips, as this will draw attention to the edit.

Below is a behind the scenes look of our ‘The Conjurer’ video. This clip shows how we made Lucas disappear in his box, but it’s the same technique for making anything disappear.

There are many kid movie making ideas, but this is one of my favorites. Perfect these movie making tips and you’ll be on your way to producing your version of ‘The Conjurer’ in no time.

Make it look even more professional by adding music, a title, and if not too complicated a fade up and down from black at the beginning and ending of your videos

Export to YouTube, be sure to post the link below and share on our Facebook page.


 

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Moviemaking with Children: Making things Disappear (The Conjurer)

Lucas likes to perform. He occasionally likes to perform magic tricks, which consist of ‘Daddy, look at this ball… I’m going to make it disappear… Now close your eyes… close your eyes… close your eyes… now open your eyes! As you can imagine the ball has ‘magically’ disappeared. This trick was very cute at first, though I had to watch out for any breakable items that might suffer when the OBJECT ‘magically’ disappeared. Recently I made the decision to burst his bubble and challenge him to make something ‘really’ disappear using the magic of film.

This can be achieved a lot easier than you may think, using a mobile device to replicate the effects used in an 1899 film called ‘The Conjurer’, Moviemaking with Children has never been easier.

This black and white movie applies a simple effect to achieve the illusion that a person has magically disappeared and then reappeared in a different location. Most of the marvel is in the performance and while it was highly innovative at the time, the same effect can be quickly accomplished using something like the iMovie app. All that is needed is a trick, performance, and a simple cut and delete in post-production. As you’ll quickly discover, keeping the camera still is an important component, so a mini tripod like the Joby is advisable, and once you get the creative juices flowing you’ll quickly generate alternative variations to the magic, and might even develop comfort to experiment with some of the special effects available in your moviemaking app.

SEE ALSO:

Here’s our final version, which consists of two magic tricks, a slight tint filter to make it look old, and an upbeat jiggle.

Below is the ‘How to Video’ accompanied with a screen shot of the iMovie app for first time users. This is a great activity to open up endless possibilities for moviemaking with children.

It’s all extremely simple, and the variations are endless. So engage those creative thinking and get making! A competition in in the pipeline so get practicing now.

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COMMENT BELOW for FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

You can also view the entire film for free by simply commenting on one of our articles. Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

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Dads for Creativity: 3 Question interview with LEGO ANIMATOR, Alex Kobbs (Stop-Motion Lego Movies)

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Being a Dad comes with a genuine excuse to buy and play Legos, and I can’t wait to turn this into a moviemaking venture with my boys. Alex Kobbs is an animator and filmmaker, who has racked up millions (and I mean MILLIONS) of hits on YouTube for his stop motion Lego movies. Now it’s unlikely that the average parent will achieve the awesomeness of Alex’s work, which include an array of old-school filmmaking and practical effects, but with mobile devices like the iPhone and specific stop-motion apps available – there’s not really much stopping us having a go, and as Alex points out – we’ll likely engage a variety of creative thinking skills along the way.

How did you get into making videos with Lego?

Lego bricks have always seemed to be a part of my life (thanks to my parents) as I was attracted to the Trains, Space, and Pirate themes that reflected my natural childhood interests. I started animating Brickfilms when I was 12 years old after receiving the Lego Stephen Spielberg Movie Maker Set for my birthday. 

This was a simple system that I could experiment with and learn the fundamentals of animation. At about the same time, Lego® started manufacturing their Star Wars branded line, and I was immediately hooked.

Where do your story ideas come from and how might parents generate ideas with their kids?

I think parents should go with whatever feels natural to both them and their child concerning story creation. As a kid, I loved to make things up in a spontaneous manner, and I’m not sure that structuring the stories in a storyboard-type way with my parents would have worked. Structure was already abundantly prevalent in school, and I used my animations and Lego bricks to escape that. 

I have always had a vivid imagination, and had been acting out my own stories way before I had a digital camera. I can remember one particular instance when I created a story with my Lego bricks over the course of a 3 day period. I remember feeling very disappointed at the end of my imagined adventure because I could never re-tell or share the miniature drama I had brought to life on my bedroom floor. That realization led to my desire to capture the story to enjoy later, and filmmaking is the natural extension of that.

What advice can you offer parents who are looking to make Lego videos with their kids?

The first piece of advice I have for parents trying to create brickfilms with their kids is to allow them to experiment and fail. It’s so easy for us as adults to immediately see what the “right” or “correct” way to do something is because our brains have already developed and we’re drawing on a lifetime of experience. No one wants to see a child founder so our natural instinct is to help them…almost to the point of doing it for them. This may be helpful with other tasks like a golf swing, but creativity is somewhat random and needs room to be spontaneous. Simply forcing or telling the child how to accomplish a task doesn’t allow them to figure out all the nuances associated with that task. This inevitably leads to the “let me do it” line so often repeated by young children…

I think the best way to go about brickfilming with children is to animate along side them at first. So, the parent could animate their own car or character, while the child does their own thing in the same shot. The child will often try to imitate the parent instead of being told what to do. At the end, the comparison is often a sharp contrast and the child will want to replicate and surpass the parent’s efforts. Allowing the child to play “director” also puts them in a position of power and boosts their confidence.

Luckily, due to the democratization of the new technology, there is almost no downside to allowing a child to make as many films as they want!

Alex’s stop motion work can be found on his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/kooberz. And a tour of the studio that all Dads will want can be seen in the short documentary below.

Alex had a lot more advice to offer in his interview – check out the full interview here.

If you liked this article, check out another DadsforCreativity 3 Question Interview with award winning educator Jonathan Nalder or see ‘Interactive Storytelling with Legos‘. 


 

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Anyone who shares or contributes content via the comments below* will receive a FREE download to Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance.

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